Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mapping the Undercity

As I write this, I am finishing up my presentation day at the conference. I have breakfast tomorrow, then I'm back to the airport for a flight back to San Diego. By the time I post this, though, I'll probably either be in the airport or back home.

I'm a strange social animal. Put me in a defined role in a defined place (in front of a class, making a presentation, doing an orientation program, doing my job, DMing) and I'm outgoing and very social. When I'm done, I'm back to being an introvert. So when I'm at these conferences, I have a hard time sitting in the bar doing the networking other people do. I do my talk or go to the presentations I want, talk to my wife on the phone, and go to my room to read, write, or sketch.

This trip, I took some time to start sketching out old-school megadungeon maps. I have 4 done, and may have more done by the end of the weekend. I'm hoping to put together 9 of them. Keys will come much later. Hell, I still haven't put in doors and the like yet.

This has been an odd experience for me since I haven't really run a dungeon crawl since I was eighteen. That's almost twenty-four years. I stopped because I had decided at the time that dungeons were silly and illogical, and that I had better things to do with my GMing time. Diving into other games for quite some time, the dungeon never came up again.

As I started thinking about Athanor, I put mentions of the Undercity into my early notes because I decided that the dungeon allows for something I had wanted to do with Athanor -- include elements of the gratuitously bizarre and alien. Stange monsters, horrifying traps, and alien architecture would seem out of place in the middle of a city, even an ancient city filled with crumbling ruins of buildings like Zamora. Why would people allow them to continue to exist? Wouldn't someone just demolish them? Wall them off? Burn them down? But in a strange and dangerous underground, such weirdness takes on a mythical quality. Odd things are under the city, like baby alligators grown to huge proportions or C.H.U.D in the sewers. The dungeon transforms from a silly affectation to a weird mythical underground.

So I've started mapping it out, at least. Just need to figure out what to do with it....